Courtesy Thunder Road
Barre –– The best drivers and people of Thunder Road’s 60th season were honored at the 2019 Thunder Road Banquet of Champions on Saturday, November 16. Nearly 300 racers, family members, crew members, and officials gathered at the Barre Elks Lodge of Barre, VT to celebrate the past season and start looking forward to 2020.
Hometown racer Jason Corliss took home the biggest racing honor of the season as the 2019 “King of the Road”. Corliss came out on top of one of the closest multi-way battles in Thunder Road history to win his first Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model championship.
Over the course of the season, Corliss had to fend off challenges by Scott Dragon, Kyle Pembroke, Trampas Demers, and Cody Blake. He outlasted Dragon by just four points on the strength of two point-counting wins, including the Memorial Day Classic, and 12 top-10 finishes. Corliss became the 38th different driver to be crowned “King/Queen of the Road”.
Corliss thanked his entire family, team, and the Thunder Road staff in his acceptance speech, noting that above all else, those involved his efforts help make racing fun.
“There’s no sense doing it if it’s not fun,” Corliss said. “That’s what short track racing is all about. We’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of success over the years, and I can’t wait to keep working hard with this group and seeing what else we can accomplish here in the future.”
Corliss went on to talk about the importance of the Thunder Road community sticking together and working to promote the sport in a positive light. By doing so, he noted, the track can continue to thrive and be an example for auto racing in North America.
Waterbury Center’s Jason Woodard was recognized for the third time in his career as the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tiger Champion. Woodard won four races at Thunder Road, including the non-point Mini Milk Bowl, and posted 10 top-five finishes. He dueled with rookie Stephen Martin for the title for much of the season before pulling away down the stretch. Woodard joined Shawn Fleury as the second driver to win thee Flying Tiger championships in Thunder Road’s modern era.
Woodard also collected a second championship trophy on Saturday night for the Myers Container Services Triple Crown Series. He posted first-, second-, and third-place finishes in the three-race series to win the title. Woodard beat out a tie between Martin and his daughter Kelsea for second.
Barre’s Jeffrey Martin received the honors as the Allen Lumber Street Stock Champion for the first time. Martin posted four wins and at one point had a streak of 12 straight top-10 finishes. He held off a late charge by 2014 Champion Tommy “Thunder Smith” to become the 30th different champion in the division’s history.
Craftsbury’s Stephen Martin and Berlin’s Keegan Lamson came to the stage as Rookie of the Year for the Flying Tigers and Street Stocks, respectively. Martin spent six weeks atop the Flying Tiger standings and held off Logan Powers for rookie honors on the strength of seven top-5s and 12 top-10s. Lamson became the second-youngest winner in track history on August 15 and posted five other top-10 finishes.
A number of Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warrior drivers were presented with trophies. While the Road Warriors are a non-point division, they put on some of the best racing of the year at Thunder Road. Their division-wide camaraderie was unmatched in the pit area.
Thunder Road gave out several special awards in addition to the points awards. Director of Competition Dean Gallison became the first two-time winner of the Don MacTavish Award. Gallison, who previously received the award in 2006, was honored for his unwavering commitment to auto racing in the 13 years since he was first recognized. Gallison has worked nearly 500 events as an official in that time, and even after being injured in a freak accident at the Labor Day Classic, Gallison never missed an event at the “Nation’s Site of Excitement”.
Burnie Allen and the Allen Lumber Company won the Ken Squier Award for contributions to Thunder Road. Allen Lumber became the sponsor of the Street Stocks back in 1989 and have been associated with the division ever since. The company is now synonymous with entry-level racing in the region and Allen is a weekly presence at the track beyond just his name.
Danville’s Tyler Cahoon was named the winner of the Thunder Road Sportsmanship Award. Cahoon received the award for the positivity and upbeat attitude he brought to the Late Model pits every week. He raced everyone in the division respectfully and was always one of the last drivers to leave the track regardless of his results.
Pittsfield’s Juan “Paco” Marshall received the Ed Carroll Memorial Sportsmanship Award for the Street Stocks. In just two years of racing at Thunder Road, Marshall has become one of the track’s most popular drivers. He was always happy to be at the track, and even on nights that ended badly, he managed a smile. Marshall recently became a representative for the Race to Read program and has started spreading his joy for racing to children around the state.
Barre’s Jason Pelkey took home the Thunder Road Most Improved Driver Award. Pelkey finished a career-best seventh in Flying Tiger points in his third year in the division. He became the third member of his family to win the award. Jason’s father Mike won the inaugural Most Improved Driver Award in 1990 and his cousin Christopher received it in 2018.
Amanda Conger was the winner of the CVTsport.net Thunder Road Hero of the Year Award. Conger, who spent the last two summers working on the Thunder Road staff, donated a kidney this past summer to Flying Tiger racer Cameron Ouellette. The selfless act has allowed Ouellette to work towards resuming a normal life along with his racing career.
Justin St. Louis was given the Pete Hartt Memorial Media Award. St. Louis has been in auto racing media and public relations for well more than a decade. Among other things, he founded Vermont Motorsports Magazine, writes a column for The Times Argus, and is part of the WDEV Radio broadcast team. He is also an auto racing historian who works to make sure the region’s racing history is accurately recorded and remembered.
The Banquet of Champions officially concludes the 2019 Thunder Road season. The 2020 racing schedule is being finalized and is expected to be released within the next few weeks. Further information regarding 2020 division rules, season passes, and more will follow shortly thereafter.
For more information, contact the Thunder Road offices at (802) 244-6963, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.thunderroadvt.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at @ThunderRoadVT.